Today we are excited to welcome Maureen Weber, our new president & CEO, to Early Learning Indiana. We asked her a few questions to get to know her a little better. Read on to find out her most beloved children’s book, her favorite place to visit in Indiana with her kids and what she is most looking forward to here at Early Learning Indiana!
Q: What’s your very favorite children’s book?
A: I love the book “A Little Princess” by Francis Hodgson Burnett. It’s a story about a little girl who goes from riches to rags back to riches. Like many good books, my oldest sister first read it to me. I’ve always liked the main character, little Sara Crewe, because she was smart as a whip and fiercely brave in the face of all sorts of difficult things. She was infallibly kind to the least fortunate around her and helped them all be their best selves.
Q: Who is your favorite character from books, television or movies?
A: “The West Wing” is hands down my favorite television show, and it has lots of good candidates for my favorite character, but I’d probably have to go with President Jed Bartlet. I’ve loved to watch him wrestle with enormous challenges, leaning on his intellect, his instincts, his integrity and his capable team to lead the fictional US.
Q: What is your favorite quote related to early childhood, learning or leadership?
A: I like to quote from history and books pretty often depending on the circumstances, but the one universal truth that pretty much always applies in my experience is from Abraham Lincoln: “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” Our strength comes from working together to do right by the children and families we serve and if we stay focused on that, I have no doubt that we’ll achieve everything that we set out to achieve.
Q: If someone plopped a ball of play dough in front of you, what would you sculpt?
A: I love to bake, so if someone put a ball of play dough in front of me I’d probably start divvying it up into smaller balls to make into cookies or dinner rolls out of habit.
Q: What is your favorite place in Indiana to visit with your children?
A: We love to be outside so any park is fair game, but we’re particularly fond of Holliday Park, because it has a great combination of creek stomping, playgrounds and good picnic spots, with the added bonus of being a quick drive from our house.
Q: What’s your favorite family tradition?
A: There are a lot of good ones to choose from, but one favorite is apple picking. We usually go to a few orchards each fall to make sure that we hit the best activities (corn mazes, hayrides, etc.) as well as the best food (which, in case you are wondering, is the caramel apple fondue with peanuts at Anderson Orchard in Mooresville). So far, my 4-year-old daughter is all in. My son, who would rather starve than let a piece of fruit cross his lips, is not quite so bought in, but at 11 we can still coerce him with promises of caramel corn and cider slushes.
Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I’ve always had so many different interests that I don’t think I ever so much wanted to “be” something as to “do” something that mattered. I’ve been blessed with lots of opportunities that fit that bill and I couldn’t be more excited for the chance to help Early Learning Indiana do what we do even better.
Q: What teacher had the biggest impact on your life and why?
A: I had many great teachers who taught me to think hard, to love books, to take risks, to be curious about the world around me, and, maybe most importantly, to challenge my initial assumptions. My most influential teacher actually wasn’t in the classroom, but a mentor who helped me discover what kind of leader I wanted to be through his own modeled behavior. When I’m facing a dilemma, it is often his voice I hear in my head helping me work through the alternatives. I believe that the best teachers are like that – they fill up our arsenals with skills that get tucked away until we need them.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in this role?
A: This is an easy one – I’m most looking forward to working with our team to advance our mission. I’m so grateful that you’ve all chosen to use your talents to serve children and families. My job is to make sure that you each have the things that you need to do your best work, so that Early Learning Indiana can, in turn, be the best it can possibly be.